Onward and Upward and Sideways and Backwards

When I first started this business I had imagined a wonderful idyll of swishy clothes, hours that fit with the children, fun events, learning by doing and generally being fabulous as a result of helping women find nice things to wear at a difficult time.

With the wonderful gift of hindsight, here are a few myth busters to temper the mumpreneur dream if you are thinking of starting out on your own and are currently enjoying a small fantasy about how it could be……

1) Hours that Fit with the Children.

This generally means working when everyone else is asleep or paying for childcare.

The days that you pass through with a baby that “should” nap, or “should” sleep through so that you can get some work done, rapidly morph in to days when they are at pre-school and will need dropping off, picking up and intense, guilt-laden extra-playing-with in between times. These are followed by school days which mean you get a small slither of time in the middle of the day to crack on, but your evenings and weekends, AND BRAIN, will be full of homework, uniform prep, school admin and general catching up ….You went in to business as a mumpreneur to be able to spend time with the kids so every minute you don’t spend fully present with them will cost you sanity points. That includes supervising play while you check your mails, helping with homework while you talk on the phone and watching telly with them while you work on your laptop. Don’t pretend that this counts as time spent with your children, because you know it isn’t really and lying to yourself only sends you madder.

2) Working for Myself

This generally means employing other people to do the bits you can’t – VAT returns, tax returns, childcare, marketing, social media….You may think you can do all of them, but if you can then it will cost you valuable time that could be spent networking, updating websites, managing stock, or just planning the business. In turn, this will mean spending money with suppliers that turn out not to fit well with your business before you find the ones that are the right price and skill level for you. It is the very lucky mumpreneur that starts her business with a team of people that she can completely trust and afford! Remember, the process of discovering which bits you really can’t do and then finding someone else who you can trust and afford to do them, also costs you sanity points….

3) Having control of my own finances / future

This generally translates as not having a pension, healthcare, or insurance should you fall ill. Very few mumpreneurs can afford to safeguard their own futures while the business is being established. Let’s also not forget the lack of holiday pay, maternity pay, cover on the days when you cant be “in the office” and any kind of job sharing or support from a wider department. You have to find your support at networking and other groups and be ready for the days when you simply can’t earn any money because someone else needs you. The stress of being less profitable than you imagined as a result of needing to put in place these safeguards, and it being ALL about you ALL the time, is also a big sanity points sucker.

4) Learning by Doing

Learning by doing suggests that just by doing something you will eventually become good at it. If the same logic was applied to sports, I would be able to out-run Usain Bolt and out twiddle Beth Tweddle. Neither of these things has happened as a result of jogging once a week and doing the occasional roly poly with my daughter. Learning by doing can mean poor accounting practices, tax penalties, sluggish social media and a second rate website. Always start a business from the premise of playing to your strengths and tested skills, and then outsource everything else. You can pick up experience in the other areas, but don’t pretend that just because the business is “your baby” that you know everything you need to know to nurture, grow and protect it, just by having a go

 

Being a mumpreneur can be rewarding, challenging, fun and exciting. After lots of pre-children-years in industry with very little autonomy but heaps of responsibility it has been a wild ride to be doing everything from sourcing suppliers to entering awards with only myself to blame whether it goes right or not. I wouldn’t take back a single second of running my own business- I have met some wonderful women, helped some lovely customers and it has indeed mostly been swishy and fabulous.

BUT, if I could go back in time and get a few fellow mumpreneurs a little bit pissed (not hard, most of them are very cheap dates as a result of never getting out) and quiz them as to what a life devoted to building your own business actually means in terms of time, finances, emotions and stress, then I would, and I would listen VERY carefully to what they had to say…..

If after doing that, I still thought I had what it took to run my own business, I would tell myself firmly…… “You’re probably wrong. You probably don’t.”. And then I would do it anyway.

 

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5000 happy customers and counting….

I don’t normally do blogs that are so personal or so trumpety (? I’m sure that’s an actual word), but we realised this week that we have shipped over 5000 orders since we started back in 2006….In all that time we have had complaints -I remember both of them like they were yesterday, and I should add, neither of them were our fault, but we still bent over backwards to sort them out…..we have had disappointments (lost stock, price rises and the recession), but mostly it has just been a steady stream of very happy customers…..

We don’t stock anything we wouldn’t be happy to wear ourselves, and after 7 years in business quite a large proportion of our mutual wardrobes are stocked with designs that we have loved and continued to wear long after the babies have finished breastfeeding. My youngest is 5 so there has been no booby going on here for a while now (*boo*), but I still wore my favourite Mummy Looks Fab work dress to work this week and will be wearing another one to my son’s school event this weekend. I am happy to be proof positive that the designs we stock have great longevity.

My personal favourite has always been the tunic dress. On the days when I am feeling dress-down, they look fabulous with jeans and pumps, for those unpredictable days they are a safe bet with leggings and chunky boots, and finally (and more recently), if you feel like getting your legs out and enjoying a well-earned hit of Vitamin D, they work just as well with bare legs.

I can’t tell you how many customers have ordered one style and then come back a few weeks later to buy a duplicate so they have one to wear when the other is in the wash.

We love helping new mummies and mummies to be feel every bit gorgeous – goodness knows they have enough on their plates with all the demands life places on us. Whether you are heading out to work, looking after the children, or (hopefully)relaxing at home with your new baby, we like to think if you have invested in a couple of pieces from Mummy Looks Fab over the years at least you won’t have to work too hard to leave the house feeling “made”.

If you had asked me in 2006 what the future held, I could never have predicted that we would still be in business 7 years later, with 5000 happy customers under my belt (belly band). …

Here’s to the next 7 and I’m already looking forward to cracking out my favourite tunic dress to wear to the office party in 2020…..

Top Five Breastfeeding Tips

27th June 2013

To recognise National Breastfeeding Week 2013 we have pulled together the Top Five breastfeeding tips as suggested by our loyal breastfeeding customers…..Remember, every mother and baby are unique, so what works for one person may not work for another, but hopefully there is something here that will help anyone who is currently struggling –

1) Its so easy to say, and so hard to do, but you have to consciously RELAX. Breathe deeply, pick a comfy spot and get settled, loosen your shoulders, and turn the clocks face down. For the first few weeks at least, do not time feeds, do not try and multi task and be kind to yourself. You and the baby need time and calm to figure this all out.

2) Wear a properly fitted bra. You have to look after your breasts and keep them safe from injury and illness. They will change dramatically as your milk comes in and feeding becomes established so make sure you have a properly fitted nursing bra and if necessary, a night time bra as well. Mastitis, blocked ducts and soreness can all be caused and exacerbated by a bra that is too tight or too loose. If you haven’t been measured for a while, things WILL have changed – contact T-J at bras4mums for some help and “support”. Another way of safe-guarding your nipples that seems to work for a lot of new mums is to rub Lanolin cream in after each feed. This helps them to heal, is completely safe for baby and provides a degree of protection during the feed as well. Anything you can do to keep your nipples crack free is worth trying!

3) Be Kind to Yourself – There is no “proper” way to breastfeed, only what works for you and your unique baby. Don’t worry about the perfect schedule, or the appropriate hold. If you are comfortable cluster feeding in the afternoons, or feeding in a sling as you walk a long, or co-sleeping and feeding on demand, then as long as your baby is happy to as well, then go with it.

4) Eat and drink as well as you possibly can. You are making the milk for your precious baby so put the best quality ingredients in and pass that along. This will also help keep your energy levels up and your hormones in balance. Life can be daunting after the birth and you need to make sure you give yourself every chance at resilience and well-being.

5) Get help if you need it. If your nipples are still sore after a week, if your breasts feel lumpy and painful, if the baby seems to be feeding constantly, get some help and advice. You can try your local breastfeeding support groups – these can be independent or run by health visitors, or you can try organisations such as the NCT or La Leche League. But do not struggle on and do not suffer in silence. The sooner you get some help from a supportive expert, the easier the problems are to solve.

Breastfeeding can be so special and rewarding and it really is the best way to give your baby a fantastic start in life. It’s free, easy and when it’s all working well, such a happy experience to have shared with your little one.

Don’t let solvable problems stop you from doing it for as long as you and the baby want to!

 

to celebrate National Breastfeeding Week 2013, Mummy Looks Fab is offering 15% off all orders